Theatre times: ‘Katie Roche’

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Each year in Ireland there is an event called ‘Culture night’ – an evening where museums, galleries and exhibition spaces are open late, and free for all and sundry.  Tonight was that night.

I am a lucky boy in the sense that I finish work at 4pm on a Friday and I live in the city centre. My last quarter of an hour at work was spent clicking on the website, to find cultural things to do on the way home.

The plan was simple. My bus stops at the top of O’Connell Street – I was going to try my luck at getting a backstage tour of the Gate Theatre, and mosey over to the Writers’ Museum to see if I could draw inspiration from other authors’ pain.

I arrived in town at 5pm. The lovely woman at the Gate box office told me that their event was starting at 7.30pm. Too late for my carcass.  I wandered over and investigated the Writers’ Museum which was reasonably engaging.

Then I had a brainwave. I’d head towards the Customs’ House which – for one night only – was open to the public.

En route I passed the Abbey Theatre – the national theatre of Ireland. There was a queue outside. My interest was piqued. What could this be? Continue reading Theatre times: ‘Katie Roche’

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Concert: Red Hot Chili Peppers

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It has been a long time coming – this Red Hot Chili Peppers concert at the 3Arena. So long  – thirteen months – that I have in fact written blog posts about the gig on two previous occasions.

The first post (which you can read HERE ) describes my excitement last August getting the tickets, my memories of the Chili Peppers covers band who introduced me to Amsterdam in the year 2000, and the impure thoughts I used to have about the lead singer Anthony Kiedis.

The second post (which you can read HERE) details how a mere days before the Christmas gig – the opening night of the world tour –  my Anthony got the flu, and postponed the concert until last night – the closing night of the tour.

I was ready. I had been ready for over a year. I was late leaving work so I didn’t have a chance to go home to dress for a rock gig. I would not be wearing a bandana this evening. I would be eating a big, greasy burrito from ‘Burrito Blues’ in the IFSC, on the way down to the concert though. Continue reading Concert: Red Hot Chili Peppers

Hitching a ride

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I was talking to someone about my recent experience hitchhiking in Leitrim. They looked horrified that I had engaged in an activity that would so obviously end with me buried alive in a shallow grave in the hills of the west. I thought about this on the bus, on the way home from work on Wednesday.

I understand people’s concern about this means of transport. A few horrible stories of murdered travellers about twenty years ago seems to have ended its popularity. It is a rare sight to see someone thumbing a lift these days.

It was not always so. Way back in the mists of time, during and immediately after college, it was my preferred method of getting from point A to point B. Firstly it was free, which was always a consideration for a poor student. Secondly it was what people did back then. There was no scandal in hitching a ride. It displayed an element of courage and practicality (even back then though people had justifiable misgivings about its safety). And you’d meet some interesting people along the way, who hopefully wouldn’t dismember you and feed you to the fishes.

I’ve had some interesting lifts. Continue reading Hitching a ride

Minimum wage

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The woman in the canteen is finishing on Friday. Everyone is quite shocked. She’s been there since the office opened about five years ago.

She is an absolutely terrifying person, while at the same time being an absolute sweetheart. I’d guess she’d be in her late fifties at this point. Although this is just a guess.

Wearing the black uniform and neckerchief of the catering company that employs her, means that she always looks the same. I had been working in the company for about a year when I saw her in her civilian clothing for the first time. I was surprised to see that her hair was shoulder length and blonde. She’s a true blue Dub, with an accent that could cut glass. Continue reading Minimum wage

‘King Lear’ because I am classy

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Shakespeare is the godfather of the English language. Writer of plays and sonnets; inventor of words and phrases now in everyday use in the language; international man of mystery – who was he really, and how could he know the interior design of Helsingør castle in Denmark – where Hamlet is set – unless he had visited himself?

What he also is, is a man of the sixteenth century. Meaning that his classic plays can be quite difficult to follow unless you are well acquainted with his writing, or the production is staged in a manner where the explanation clear from the movement rather than just the words.

I know that Shakespeare was a genius. I know of his importance in the development of the English language. However I have never enjoyed watching his plays on stage. They are a bit too much like hard work for someone of such lightweight intellect as myself. In other words, I don’t enjoy spending 50% of my time in the theatre translating what is being spoken onstage.

It was therefore with some trepidation that I attended my old home of The Teachers’ Club last night to see Thirteenth Floor Theatre’s production of ‘Lear’ – an adaptation of ‘King Lear’ directed by Bruno Theodoro. Continue reading ‘King Lear’ because I am classy

Leitrim and the Shannon were worthy opponents, but I prevailed.

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Some weeks ago some friends asked me if I was interested in joining them for a week on a river Shannon barge cruise. Well of course I was. The problem however is the greed with which I had already consumed my holidays this year. Never fear, I told them. I will join you for the first night on the river. On Sunday I would bid them ‘Ahoy’ and make my way back to Dublin. My intention was to be back by early evening, so I could hopefully enjoy the celebrations, after Mayo’s victory against Dublin in the all-Ireland football final. Continue reading Leitrim and the Shannon were worthy opponents, but I prevailed.

Dirty old Dublin town

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This blog post will not be new to anyone sees my Facebook updates.

However seeing as it concerns my bus journey to work, I want to store it in a more permanent and accessible location than Zuckerberg’s platform – I have vague notions of turning these accounts of my daily trek to the wastelands into a musical (called ‘Why Me?’ – the theme song will be a voiceover, by the angelic Linda Martin – aged 39.)

That last paragraph is not remotely true, except for wanting to compile stories of my bus journeys in a central location. People seem to enjoy these journeys far more than I do. And I can smell potential.

On Thursday morning I had a dental appointment. Afterwards feeling all tender, I made my way to the top of O’Connell Street, to reach the bus, to whisk me away to the nothingness of my work location. I turned left onto Parnell Street.

The gathered crowd and the wailing shrieks on the pavement outside the electronics store Cash Encounters, drew my attention. Continue reading Dirty old Dublin town

Theatre times: ‘Drinking in America’

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My second consecutive weekend in Limerick was to start with a dose of culture. I was going to Dolan’s on the Dock Road, for the 8 p.m. performance of ‘Drinking in America’ by Eric Bogosian. It’s a one man show, produced by Bottom Dog Theatre Company.

I was attending with a friend from home. Or so I thought.

Dolans’ is an amazing venue, comprising of four separate spaces – the pub which does a smashing meal; the Warehouse which is the large live music venue out back; the Kasbah Social Club which is the club space; and Upstairs – a more intimate performance space. The latter was the venue for this evening’s entertainment. It’s got a supper club kind of vibe – where you can watch music or theatre, seated at a table while drinking a big bag of cans – or rather a glass of beer poured from the tap by the barman in the venue.

Arriving about fifteen minutes before showtime, my clever-phone buzzed. A message of despair and apology. Well I guess I’d be seeing the show on my own then. No harm – if you can’t enjoy your own company then how are you meant to enjoy other people’s.

I flounced to the bar and ordered a pint of Hophouse.

As I was waiting a gentleman close by, smiled at me. I smiled back. How friendly people are in Limerick, I thought to myself. He approached me and said ‘hello’.

Slightly confused I said ‘hello’ back. That’s a bit too friendly, I thought.

‘Are you the person I arranged to meet?’ he asked.

The penny dropped. He was on a gay blind date. Probably arranged on Grindr. And I must have looked vaguely like his date.

I gave him a quick once over. Quite presentable. For a brief moment I thought of replying: ‘Why yes I am. Let’s  go see this play then.’

Before this could happen, some other bounder approached, tapped my potential suitor on the shoulder, and introduced himself. He looked nothing like me. Clearly this Grindr introduction had been made through the exchange of torso photos. Looking sheepish they practically sprinted away from me. Understandable. I was the other man, even though I had no knowledge or intention of being this.

Forlornly I climbed the stairs and found a suitable seat – good view of the stage, but not sitting like an obvious sore thumb in the middle of the room.

The stage was already set. Jazzy music playing in the background. A guitar player (Steve Ryan) strumming his instrument on the stage.

The lights dimmed, the compere showed us the emergency exits and instructed us to turn off our phones.

The actor made his way to the stage. The show began.

It’s a play that was written in the 1980s and it concerned the impact of booze and drugs on twelve individual characters in that greedy decade. From an industrial ceramic tile salesman, chatting up a prostitute at a sales convention in Texas; to the homeless guy shouting at passersby in New York while lying about his imaginary wealthy lifestyle; to the snooty British actor playing the all American hero in a beer advert; to the coke and booze addled agent doing deals for actors and producers from his LA apartment. To many more.

Liam O’Brien played all the characters, switching an item of costume or prop, to indicate a scene change. The talented guitarist provided the soundtrack to each segment (a bit too loudly at the beginning but that’s a minor quibble – I don’t like to strain, to hear because I am as lazy as sin.)

The pieces were all interesting in their own way. Some seemed slightly dated for the year 2017 – the 1980s mobile phone looked like a cement block; Richard Chamberlain mentioned as a heterosexual leading man?

Others seemed current – particularly the raging preacher, condemning the immigrants and the degenerates. This character could be called Trump-esque in fact.

The saddest segment (while the play was very funny, as it was being told through the prism of a gin bottle, there was a sad, grimy edge to all the stories) was the man with the perfect life, and the perfect wife, drowning his sorrows, sitting alone at a random bar. It reminded me of people with perfect Facebook lives.

The final piece was about a drunken Irish bum, living on the streets of New York, berating himself for his failure in his life. Speaking to the audience, he told us that our success was merely the flip side of his failure. It was unsettling. I felt like replying ‘Hey listen Mister, I was stood up by a friend tonight, and was actually contemplating breaking up a blind date a mere hour ago. Don’t be looking at me as any emblem of success.’

The performance by Liam O’Brien was remarkable – playing such a range of characters, with such an array of accents, moving with such ease between the roles. It was highly impressive.

It was an entertaining, thought provoking, hilarious and upsetting piece of theatre. The crowd seemed to enjoy it. I know I certainly did.

The Limerick show is the start of a national tour. Check your listings and go see it when it comes to your town.

 

 

Concert review: Pet Shop Boys in Dublin

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It was like a convention  of men who maintain a personal skin-care regime, so it was.

What I hear you ask?

Well the Pet Shop Boys – who played a gig in the Bord Gais Energy Theatre in Dublin last night – of course. I had acquired tickets when they had gone on sale some months earlier.

I have always liked the Pet Shop Boys. I’d never been a huge fan of the group though. They were a constant presence in the soundtrack of my youth, emerging in the mid 1980s when I was becoming a pop music obsessive. I was about ten years old when ‘West End Girls’ became a smash hit. I liked the song very much, but at the same time was a little bit intimidated by how sophisticated and arch the band appeared and sounded. How very posh they looked. Continue reading Concert review: Pet Shop Boys in Dublin